The Florida Bar


January 14, 2009
Dorohn A. Frazier,
The Florida Bar
(850) 561-5764;

Retired Judge John R. Blue, with Carlton Fields, P.A., in St. Petersburg, will receive the 2009 Distinguished Judicial Service Award. The award, which honors outstanding and sustained service to the public especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services, will be presented at a Jan. 29 ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.

In 2007-08, Florida lawyers provided 1,489,099 hours of pro bono services to those in need and $5,288,466 to legal aid organizations.

Over the course of 40 years, Blue has provided thousands of hours of free legal services to those who otherwise could not afford it—more than 200 in 2008 alone. Blue became Of Counsel to Carlton Fields, P.A. in 2003, upon his retirement as chief judge of the Second District Court of Appeal. He is a member of the law firm's Appellate Practice and Trial Support Group.

Before becoming a judge, Blue spent 23 years in the general practice of law, which included extensive trial experience. He was appointed to the bench for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit by Gov. Bob Graham in 1986 and elected to office in 1989. He served until 1992 when Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him to the Second District Court of Appeal.

Serving on the bench precluded him from directly providing pro bono representation, however, as a circuit judge, Blue saw a need to educate those who were going through dissolution of marriage, about the legal process and related issues such as alimony and child support. He drafted a pamphlet that is still in use today, "What to Expect … Divorce in the 12th Judicial Circuit."

Blue received media attention in recent years, for a pro bono case he took on seeking to obtain compensation for Alan Crotzer, then 45, who was wrongfully incarcerated for more than 24 years on kidnapping and rape charges. In 2006, Crotzer was freed after being exonerated by DNA evidence. Since his release, Crotzer, with the assistance of Blue and a team of Carlton Fields attorneys, fought to persuade the Florida Legislature not only to provide just compensation to help him rebuild his life, but also to implement a fair and balanced system to compensate those who lose part of their lives because of wrongful incarceration.

During his term as president of the Manatee County Bar Association, Blue started the group's first voluntary pro bono project and encouraged members to participate by going to the county courthouse to conduct interviews to determine eligibility for pro bono representations.

Blue received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Florida State University in 1958 and a Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law in 1963.
The awards ceremony, which also honors individual,young lawyer, law firm and voluntary bar pro bono efforts, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009, at 3:30 p.m. at the Florida Supreme Court. In addition, the ceremony will be broadcast live, unless pre-empted, on the Florida Channel (check local cable listings for the channel number) and on the Internet at

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EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."

[Revised: 01-14-2009]